Pokolbin Estate rises from ashes

ITS wines regularly triumph against the odds in major competitions, but last week Pokolbin Estate celebrated a similar victory over a disastrous blaze 18months ago.

In August 2011 fire gutted its elegant, landmark sandstone cellar door and tasting rooms in McDonalds Road, Pokolbin.

The building was established on the Pokolbin site in the 1970s using sandstone painstakingly taken from a derelict 1889 cottage next to the historic Kirkton vineyard property at Lower Belford.

The 2011 fire destroyed wine stored in the building along with company records and numerous wine show trophies.

It was, co-owners Richard Friend and John Hindman conceded, a serious threat to Pokolbin Estate’s survival as a cellar door and wine club sales were severely hit. Last week though, before a large crowd of well-wishers, Richard and John officially opened the reborn sandstone building that has been given a plush modern interior and beautifully landscaped surrounds.

It had not been an easy task. Under the direction of EJE Architecture, the old sandstone blocks in the fire-damaged ruins were numbered, salvaged and relaid so the rebuilt exterior would look the same as before. Duplicates of wine trophies and awards lost in the fire were obtained from show authorities and put back on display. The fire-twisted plate recording the original official opening by NSW cabinet minister Ken Booth was rescued from the rubble and placed over the new fireplace.

Richard Friend said last week the project had cost about $2million.

Since Richard and John Hindman, who are partners in Sydney supermarket display shelf manufacturer Efficiency Displays, bought Pokolbin Estate in 1987, it has built a freakish competition record. Its most remarkable success has been with riesling, a variety deemed unsuitable for the Hunter. Incredibly, the Pokolbin Estate 2011 Hunter Valley Riesling was declared Winestate magazine’s 2011 Australasian Riesling of the Year, in competition with 1300 rieslings from such prestigious riesling areas as the Clare Valley, Tasmania, New Zealand and the Eden Valley. That topped the Pokolbin Estate 2000 Hunter Valley Riesling’s performance as riesling of the year runner-up in the 2005 Winestate awards.

To mark its headquarters’ rise from the ashes, Pokolbin Estate has assembled a six-bottle commemorative pack of its most successful wines.

Selling for $250, the pack comprises the: 2011 Hunter Valley Riesling that won the Winestate 2011 Australasian Riesling of the Year; 2010 Hunter Valley Riesling that won the best young riesling trophy at the 2010 NSW Wine Awards; 1999 Semillon that won the 2006 Winestate Semillon of the Year and was runner-up in 2007; 2005 Semillon that won the 2010 Winestate Semillon of the Year; 2003 Reserve Shiraz that won a trophy at the NSW Wine Awards; and 2007 Reserve Shiraz that was given 97 points out of 100 in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion.

The pack can be bought at the cellar door, or at pokolbinestate.com.au.

Wine tasting treat in store

WINE lovers will be able to taste about 1000 2013 Macquarie Group Sydney Wine Show trophy- and medal-winning wines at Sydney Showground on Saturday.

Judging of the show went on last week and was completed last Thursday, with results announced tomorrow.

The Sydney Royal Wine Experience tasting will take place in showground’s Southee Pavilion between 2pm and 6pm. Single tickets are $75; $140 for a double pass.

Besides sampling award-winning wines, attendees will be able to try a range of gourmet products from the Sydney Royal Fine Food and Cheese and Dairy Produce shows.

They include hams,  breads, dips, olives and cheeses. Tickets can be bought online at sydneyroyal.com.au/wineexperience.

WE’RE BACK: John Hindman and Richard Friend in their rebuilt HQ.  Picture: Ryan Osland

WE’RE BACK: John Hindman and Richard Friend in their rebuilt HQ. Picture: Ryan Osland


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